Stay Productive (And Sane) While Working From Home

More and more, working from home has become the norm for many people. Whether you’re freelancing or telecommuting from a full-time job, you really can be just as productive, if not more, than a cubicle dweller. Just remember this advice for succeeding on the home front:

• Start your day off right. You may not have to work a rigid 9-to-5 schedule when working at home, but take your job seriously: “Report” to your desk, wherever it is, at an appropriate time ready to work. Some experts recommend showering and dressing as if you’re going to the office to get into the right frame of mind.

• Understand what your organization needs. Working from home means you won’t get as much direct feedback and instruction from your boss throughout the day. Get clear expectations from your manager so you’ll be working on the right tasks and the right schedule. Set short-term and long-range goals that align with your organization’s objectives.

• Establish firm boundaries. Family members and friends should know when you’re working and realize that you can’t be interrupted for trivial reasons. Keep your door closed (if you have one), and let the answering machine pick up the phone if your spouse or child doesn’t get to it. You’ll find out about emergencies soon enough; don’t get distracted by irrelevant chitchat.

• Stay connected with people. Don’t let them forget you back at HQ. Check in frequently with emails and phone calls to let people know you’re on top of things. Visit the office when you can, and maintain your friendships with co-workers. You want to be thought of as a full member of the team, wherever you are.

• Take breaks when you need to. Don’t work yourself to exhaustion trying to prove you’re just as productive at home as you would be in a cubicle. Although you shouldn’t start a home renovation project in the middle of writing a report, there’s nothing wrong with spending a few minutes emptying the dishwasher or putting laundry away to clear your mind and relax a little.

• Evaluate your progress regularly. Keep track of your workload and your goals so you can review how much you’re getting done and whether you need to make any adjustments. As your own supervisor, you’ll need to keep an eye on what you’re accomplishing so you don’t fall behind.

Work/Life Balance: The Issue Of Technology

Technology and easy Internet access can be both a blessing and a curse, giving us remote access to email, smartphones, Skype and other tools.

In theory at least, this gives us the ability to be able to work from home and achieve a better work/life balance, and yet in some cases all it has actually done is increase the number of hours that we spend working.

One way to win back some work/life balance is to negotiate the time spent working from home.

Not only does working from home save a lot of time you would otherwise spend commuting back and forth to work, it also means you save money on both transportation and food, and it gives you more time to develop an exercise routine. There can be problems with working from home, however, such as lack of discipline and motivation as well as overwork.

The solution is to make certain that your work stays within the time period of a normal working day and does not add further hours to that workload.

Some time-management techniques include creating to-do lists, managing your expectations, prioritizing your workload, learning to delegate, and making sure that you have regular meetings and catch-up sessions with colleagues.

It is also important to set boundaries with colleagues to respect your personal time. Set an expectation that you’re “not available” during non-work hours. Switching off your cell phone and not checking emails during non-working hours is also a good idea.

Should Your Company Consider Telecommuting To Trim Costs?

Every small business is looking for ways to cut costs. With advances in technology, telecommuting is another option to save. According to a report from the human resources association, WorldatWork, 17.2 million U.S. employees telecommuted at least one day a month in 2009.

That’s slightly more than 10 percent of the U.S. workforce and an increase of almost 40 percent from 2006.” Workers are speaking out. What they’re saying is that they want to telecommute. Should your office listen?

Here are some issues to consider before implementing a telecommuting policy in your workplace.

Productivity: Studies have found that telecommuting increases overall employee productivity by 10 to 45%.

Here’s what a few companies are doing:American Express telecommuters handled 26% more calls and produced 43% more business than their office-based counterparts.

Cisco saved over $277 million in productivity in one year by letting employees work from home using the company’s own virtual office technology. In addition, employees garnered fuel cost savings exceeding $10 million per year.

Real Estate/Office Cost: Roughly 25% of IBM employees work from home worldwide. IBM estimates that they save nearly $700 million in real estate costs as a direct result.

Relocation Costs: Don’t pay the moving guys. Telecommuting lets you move the employee’s work, instead of the employee’s life.

Work/Life Balance and Morale:  According to the Telework America National Telework Survey, “72% of employers say telework has a high impact on employee morale and retention.”

Today’s employees work to live, not live to work. Allowing them to balance their work and home lives heightens morale and ends a clear message that you appreciate them.

The bottom line? Telecommuting may or may not be for your company. You don’t have to allow your employees to telecommute, but you may be missing out on many benefits if you don’t.

Everyone owns a laptop or smart phone, and Internet access is everywhere. By allowing employees to telecommute, employers can cut expenses, increase productivity and raise company morale.

Why not try telecommuting 1 or 2 days a week?

Do You Want To Be Able To Work From Home? Here’s What You Need To Know!

There’s a hot business trend that’s become even MORE popular with the rising gas prices: telecommuting.

Whether you call it “working from home,” or your “virtual office,” the idea is the same: Your network is configured to give you and your staff the ability to work from some location other than the office.

While most business owners and managers pulling 60+ hour work -weeks love the idea, they often fear that employees working from home won’t be as productive, or won’t take their job seriously, but this fear is on the decline.

The International Telework Association & Council (ITAC, reports that the number of workers who telecommute at least once a week has topped 23 million and is continuing to grow.

While telecommuting will not work in every situation, there is no doubt that technology has made working from home extremely practical whether a few times a month or every week.

Offering Work From Home Options Makes Your Company More Competitive
As a matter of fact, offering work-from-home options can give you a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining the best employees:

• Employees who are sick can continue to work without infecting the office or losing an entire work day.
• Employees forced to stay home to take care of sick family members can continue to work instead of taking off long periods.
• Inclement weather or heavily congested traffic won’t shut down your office.
• Key managers with a heavy workload will actually be more productive if given the ability to work from home on evenings and weekends.
• Allowing employees flexibility during peak workloads (e.g. CPAs during tax season) makes employees happier to put in the extra hours from a home office.
• Employees with temporary or permanent disabilities can continue to be fully functional in a home environment.

Telecommuting Improves Employee Productivity And Retention
ITAC reports that enabling key employees the ability to work from home actually increases their productivity, leads to fewer sick days, and a better work/life balance which in turn, reduces turnover. After all, an employee who is given the benefit of working from home will often pass up higher paying job offers that will require them to be in an office 40 hours a week.

For the business, telecommuting saves on rent and utilities and can help avoid the heavy expense of renting additional office space or moving to larger locations.

Most business owners will test a “work from home” program by only giving themselves and a few key managers the ability to work from home. Often, this is for after-hours access. Once the technology is set up and tested, a few additional key staff can be permitted to work from home on special occasions, while traveling, sick, or otherwise unable to come in.

The Ultimate Small Business Owners Guide To Setting Up A ‘Work From Home’ Program Or Remote Network Access

If you are thinking about investing in the technology to allow your staff to work from home or a remote location—DON’T—at least not until you read this informative new report.

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